Issue 7 of Sula nods to National Poetry Month as we investigate the profound function of rhythm. It is often discussed as a creative tool, in which artists of varying mediums construct the kinetic trajectory of their work. A filmmaker’s edits consider the impact of pacing, much like a poet’s line breaks contemplate the resulting cadence. Fundamentally, rhythm is a result of thoughtful arrangements in order to ensure the accessibility of a specific emotion or idea.
On the other hand, rhythm exists as a delicate space where art production thrives. How often has a text message or random sound taken you out of your artistic flow? What does it take to get you into your rhythm in the first place? Maybe you have a ritual before you sit down to draw, or maybe you let the next lyric arrive in its own time. Either way, rhythm acts an intimate opening for innovation.
People of color have an innate understanding of rhythm (and not in that stereotypical “we all know how to dance” way). We are consistently repositioning our marginalized bodies in order to ensure survival; editing our native tongues or breaking ancestral traditions. Historically, we’ve had to assemble pieces of our identities in ways that make our personhood palatable. The movement of our daily lives showcases a reactionary tempo, in which our behavioral patterns travel in accordance with systematic oppressions. Yet, the existence of projects like Sula that aim to synchronize our intricate beats inherently reframe our usage of rhythm. We begin to harness control and generate patterns of solidarity.
Thus, rhythm is not merely something we compose. Nor is it just a space easily entered and exited. For people of color, rhythm is a valuable possession and active mode of resistance. This issue exhibits a body of work that is hyper aware of rhythm’s political depth and honors its revolutionary force.
Words by Nicole White.
Illustration by Saffa Khan.